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A way to insulate old home's brick walls

Q. We rent an older-two-story brick house which has no insulation on the outside masonry walls. I'm thinking about buying some 4x8-foot panels, cutting them carefully to size, and fitting them to the inside of the walls. Then I probably would cover them with wallpaper. Do you foresee any moisture or other problems if I were to go ahead? Is the benefit worth the cost? Steve Pierce Omaha, Neb.

A. First of all, get the landlord's permission before you add anything permanent to the house. He may even want to share in the cost.

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If the inside of the outside brick walls show any signs of moisture or efflorescence, seal the walls with one or two coats of masonry sealer before you apply any foam board.

Select a foam board that gives maximum insulation, or R value, but is of minimum thickness so you don't take too much living space away from the house.

Apply the panels to the masonry walls with a mastic or glue instead of nails. Finish the exposed edges and corners with wood or another material which is in harmony with the architectural motif of the house.

Whether the addition of foam insulation panels is worth the cost is a technical matter which you should discuss with your local utility company. It depends, of course, on the cost of fuel now, prospects for the future, and the insulation value of the material you use.

You might also drop a note to the Consumer Information Center, Pueblo, Colo. 81009.

Surely the fuel bill will drop by insulating the walls.However, the window and door areas are more important than the walls in keeping the cold air out of the house. Storm windows and weatherstripped doors are also in order.


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